HUS VM is not virtual storage appliance

I was very confused with an recent HDS announcement, and it has been at the back of my mind for several weeks now.

On the last week of September 2012, HDS announced their Hitachi Unified Storage VM, aimed at small/medium enterprises (SMEs). Nothing wrong with that, except the VM part. I am not sure if it was the Computerworld author’s mistake, but he specifically mentioned VM as “virtual machine”. Check out the link here and the screenshot below:

It got me a bit riled up thinking this was some kind of virtual storage ala VMware Virtual Storage Appliance or NetApp ONTAP-V or even the early innovation of HP Lefthand Virtual SAN Appliance. Apparently not!

I did some short investigation and found Nigel Poulton’s blog which gave a fantastic dissection about the HUS VM. The VM is not virtual machine, but Virtual Midrange!

The HUS VM architecture is deep in ASICs, given HDS long history in ASICs design and manufacturing. SiliconFS, is the NAS front end, while the iSCSI and FC part are being serviced from the same HDS microcode of the higher end HDS VSP. Here’s a look at the hardware architectural diagram from Nigel’s blog:

There are plenty of bells and whistles in the HUS VM, armed with plenty of 8Gbps FC ports, SAS 6Gbps backend, SSDs, and software such as Dynamic Provisioning (thin provisioning) and Dynamic Tiering.

But after I read about the “entry-level” price of USD156,000.00, I thought HDS must be out of their mind offering an SME level box at a staggering MYR480,000.00 smackeroos! And it does not come with capacity, meaning you  still got to buy your own hard disk drives! Wow, amazing!

Hubert Yoshida, CTO of HDS, tries to give his point of view why the HUS VM matters in his blog. HDS has positioned HUS VM in between their high-end HDS VSP and the “lower-end” of HUS 150, as show from the slide below:

But the positioning of the HUS VM brings back memory when HDS has a “neither-here-nor-there” in-between storage called NSC55. It was indeed a very powerful platform, and one of the earlier controller-based storage virtualization engine. But for me, the NSC55 was way-too-powerful for the SMEs in Malaysia, because the list price back then was just as budget-breaking as the present one.

Perhaps things and technology have changed, but I agree with what Nigel Poulton has to say about HDS foray into this so-called “mid-end” storage systems. Read below:


That something I do not quite understand about HDS strategy here. History has shown that bring something high-end, make a few smaller adjustments and repackaging it as a “mid-end”, and this is very disturbing to me. Case in point was taking the HDS USP600 and making it NSC55. Someone has to tell HDS what the definition of mid-end is, please.

SMEs in Malaysia (and perhaps in the South Asia region) want a low cost of entry, but they want large capacities and good enterprise features as well. It would be nice for the vendors and their resellers to add value by listening to them and their pain points. They have cost challenges at the time because of pressure from the top as well as the bottom. They want something that works, reliable (which includes performing well), meet their baseline requirements and that’s pretty much it. From the vendor’s point of view, dealing with SMEs feels like they want everything to be CHEAP, BEAUTIFUL and GOOD (there’s a Cantonese term to this) but given the nature of any SME businesses, competition is very stiff and they hardly have the time or resources to indulge into all the fancy bells and whistles of the storage technology.

]I would probably summarize their hurried into one sentence: “Just give me something that works, how it works for me, and support me when I need you!”

Somehow I have a feeling that SMEs in Malaysia will have a hard time chewing this”mid-end” solution of HUS VM. The HDS AMS (or even SMS storage systems) and the newer HUS systems, in my humble opinion, are more appealing and gentler to the pockets of SMEs. Wouldn’t it be easier to just enhance the HDS AMS and HUS to meet the market needs of the SMEs?

From feedbacks and my conversations with many SMEs here, one of the reasons for HDS AMS, NetApp FAS2000 or the EMC VNX/VNXe are doing well here are their appeal. You don’t see EMC ever wanting to have a “mini-VMax” or IBM doing a scaled-down DS8870 to sell to the SMEs customer, do you?

HUS VM will be a good storage systems, but not to the definition of SME customers who will immediately get a shock of the “entry-level price”. And believe me, SME customers do their homework and their research. Good luck!


Tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

4 Responses to HUS VM is not virtual storage appliance

  1. Vic Cornell says:

    Looks a bit unbalanced to me. 6GB on the back end and 32GB on the front end may well deliver a lot less than it promises.

    • cfheoh says:

      Hi Vic,

      I did not investigate into the full specs of the HDS VM when I was writing the blog. I totally agree with you that the 6Gbps back-plane is insufficient if it was true. But it is not. I have just checked the HDS HUS VM specs, and this is what they have:

      Cache 256GB
      Max Number of Drives 1,152
      Max Front end ports 32 (48 if you have no internal drives)
      Front end ports 8Gbps FC
      Backend 32 x Native 6Gbps SAS
      Drive form factor 2.5-inch SFF or 3.5-inch LFF
      CPUs 2 x 8 core Intel Xeon (partitioned as 4 x 4 core for firmware compatibility with VSP F/W)

      Hope this info helps. Thank you


  2. alex3181 says:

    hi dude,

    I am malaysian too. Previously working in german MNC, they uses both EMC ( san purpose ) and NetApp ( NAS purpose). Currently, the new company using HDS storage.

    I compared both 3 of them before.

    service = HDS the best, they have dedicated engineer for my company ( i guess the engineer are allocated to handle few customers). We can call them to create zoning, create LUN and etc. If we have critical issue, we always call them anytime (3am morning) without log a SR. Where EMC and NetApp doesn’t pratice this way. To my boss, this is very good service 😛 hehe, fast response

    product ( SAN ) = i went thru several blog. There’s many flame wars between EMC VMAX vs HDS VSP .. My ex company purchased VMAX after i resigned. I’m handling VSP in my current company. I can’t do much compare since i’m not familiar any one of them.

    product (NAS) = In my current company, I’m manage both EMC NS480 and HNAS ( on top of HUSVM) . As i knew from training, the HDS itself doesnt have NAS solution. They acquired BlueArc in past few years ago.
    i have 2 trainers , one from HDS, one from BlueArc. They both taught me different things.. Also, the CE who allocated to support my company also told me different things.. i was wtf .. why HDS so suck

    • cfheoh says:

      Hello Cheng Hui

      Very, very sorry for the late reply. I am swarmed with work and other issues, henceforth, lacked the time to manage my blog.

      It’s good to meet a fellow Malaysian who shares the same passion about storage. And thank you very much for sharing your experiences with me and the readers. I have the fortunate experience to work for all 3 companies – NetApp, HDS and EMC – in that order. Every company is different but my experience with NetApp was the best. EMC comes second and HDS is last. Technology wise, from the SAN perspective, EMC and HDS both strong SAN credentials. NetApp has both strong NAS and IP-SAN technology. So, I have all due respect for 3 of them.

      However, the essence of the core of each company’s technology cannot be more different. EMC is an incredibly tech and sales savvy company. I have the utmost respect for them and keeping their number 1 spot in the industry. NetApp is the strongest technology company of the 3 and their essence and company culture are the key in driving them into the number 2 spot. HDS is still very much a Japanese company, and to me, the most archaic of the lot.

      I have learned from all 3 and had my ups and downs. But in the end, the experiences I got were immensely valuable.

      I wish you all the best. Feel free to connect to our community at FB –> or through LinkedIn.

      Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.